Three months ago, it looked like Johnny Manziel was going to the be fourth or fifth quarterback taken in the loaded 2014 NFL Draft.
Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater had been the consensus No. 1 offensive prospect since the spring. Oregon’s Marcus Mariota was drawing Colin Kaepernick comparisons. And UCLA’s Brett Hundley had scouts floored with his raw skills.
In addition, scouts were reportedly leery about picking Manziel because of his wild social life.
On average, draft experts had Manziel going a respectable 21st overall back in October.
Over the last 12 weeks, though, Manziel’s draft stock has unexpectedly risen thanks to an excellent sophomore season and, perhaps more importantly, the decisions of two other top QB prospects to stay in school.
Both Mariota and Hundley are returning to college for one more year. Mariota was the consensus third-best player in the draft when he announced his decision. Hundley was the No. 1 QB on the board for a number of NFL teams, according to Adam Schefter.
Draft experts now have Manziel going 14th overall in the latest consensus ranking. Multiple experts have him going in the top 10, and some even think the Browns could take him at No. 5.
The move from the early-20s to the early-teens doesn’t sound like a huge leap. But financially, it makes a big difference.
The salaries for NFL rookies are essentially predetermined. Under the new collective bargaining agreement, every rookie signs a four-year deal with a prescribed value based on draft position.
In 2013, the first pick got $US22.2 million, the second pick got $US21.2 million, the third pick got $US20 million, and so on (OverTheCap has a great chart with the value of every pick).
The contract value really begins to drop off after the top five.
The difference between getting drafted No. 5 ($18.6 million) and No. 20 ($8.3 million), is enormous. Even the difference between getting taken 23rd ($8 million) and 13th ($10 million) is significant.
Right now Manziel is either the second- or third-ranked quarterback prospect in the draft, depending on how much you like UCF’s Blake Bortles. With quarterback-less teams like Houston, Jacksonville, Cleveland, and Oakland all picking in the top-five, it’s not inconceivable that he’d be taken that early.
It’d be a $US10 million leap from where he was in October.
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